Christy was kind enough to let me publish this even after my brain exploded and I forgot all about it in the abyss of my inbox. Seriously, Christy. You’re the best. Show her some love for me and check her out on Facebook, Instagram and of course, her blog Fountains of Home.
I have a party trick. It goes a little like this:
I’ll be having a casual conversation with a stranger. Maybe someone at a kid’s event, a cashier at Costco, a new hairdresser, those strangers you meet throughout your not too exciting day of running errands and the like who are friendly enough to strike up the conversation train. We’ll be chit-chatting about the weather, or the roads, or hockey, or Arcade Fire and then somehow get around to kids. Maybe they’re already a grandparent, or a new mom, or someone with older kids and I’ll mention that my girl/boy/baby/toddler did something similar or worse (usually worse) and how wonderful/horrifying/
Well, no one has fainted. But I usually get reactions like utter disbelief, or genuine surprise, sometimes silence, and sometimes a nonchalant “Oh, yeah, 5 kids…” as if that’s a completely normal number of kids for a 28 year old woman to have and happens all the time at Costco. And to that person I wish I could pull a prize from out of my purse.
People usually don’t know where to take the conversation after this. They like to sing the standard “You’ve got your hands full!” or “You must be crazy”. To which I just try to smile and not look crazy. I admit I enjoy the “You don’t look like you have five kids” comments. If you want to feel better about your postpartum body I suggest just having a lot of kids because it really seems to lower the bar in people’s minds, “5 kids! And the woman can fit in pants! She looks great!” I never mention the expensive make-up and/or Spanx that goes into keeping up this illusion of course.
I’ve never been too offended and upset about these conversations. Maybe one day they’ll grind on me. I think I got over the shock and awe of people’s reactions to my family size about 3 kids ago. Now it reminds me that maybe I am living an extraordinary life. A life that isn’t the same as everyone else’s or one that is expected by our surrounding society. I don’t know if I project how blessed and happy I am because of it, or if they’ll ever know, but in the crazy exhausting chaos I know completely that I’m living the life of abundance God wants me to live.
Christy Isinger is a full-time, at-home, sometimes crazy, mom to five(!) children aged 6 to 9 months. She herds toddlers and tries to keep a chaotic but loving home in northern Alberta, Canada. You can keep up with the craziness at her blog fountains of home where she writes about family, living the Catholic faith, books, and other random observations and opinions.
Dwija Borobia (@HouseUnseen) says
Oh Christy, “and the woman can fit in pants!” actually made me laugh out loud. Cackle. I’m totally cackling.
Love love love! I only have 4 kids and I get the same comments ALL.THE.TIME. I think you’re my new favorite blogger with the “fitting in your pants” comment!
I admire you Christy! I always knew you would be a good mom! I have only one kid and am grateful for her. I don’t think I could handle more than one. When I am having a bad day with my toddler, (e.g. Tantrum in a public place etc.) I sometimes think of you and wonder how you would handle the same situation with 5 at the same time… :)
Ahahaha Christy! That was too funny! Already got those comments with 3, and now Im very pregnant again….yikes! I’m always expecting ppl to faint too. And LOVED the pants line!
Mandi @ Messy Wife, Blessed Life says
I always find it strange to hear about the weird reactions large families get! I guess I’m sheltered and I have a weird perception of the world because I “know” many large Catholic families (online – through blogs and such) and I forget how rare they really are now.
I didn’t realize you’re only 28! I’ll be 27 in a few months and we have only one (living) child! I’m definitely one of the people who upon hearing you had five kids would not think you were weird, but would be envying you!
Mandi-I just replied and it bounced to the top!
you sound so gracious about the comments…wish I was there. I’ve never thought of it as an “extraordinary life”, even though I think mine would be just plain extra ordinary. wonderful thoughts. blessings!
Courtney I just wrote you a reply but it bounced to the top! Yikes!
Elena @ barefoot and sometimes pregnant says
Love this! I am pregnant with #6 and most conversations go like this…
Person: Is this your first baby?
Me: No, it is my sixth.
Person: Wait, what? Why would you….I mean…how is your oldest? You don’t look old enough to be having your sixth kid?
Me: The oldest is five. And I have no twins.
Person: (Blank stare)
I like bringing confusion to people’s day. Haha!
Haha! Yes! Definitely had that happen before! Pretty hilarious. Although you’ve got the twin card which beats me hands down, I’d say!
Well, I don’t know if I’m gracious all the time…but hopefully the majority of the time! Thanks Courtney!
It would be pretty hard to picture these kind of reactions unless you’ve experienced them I think. People don’t really talk about it unless they see you with all your kids, or you mention it, then people usually have comments!
I know it can be difficult Mandi, but it’s also not too easy having had 5 babies in 6 years, but I know I’ve very blessed. We’ve got 15 years of fertility ahead of us – who knows what can happen in that time!
Mandi @ Messy Wife, Blessed Life says
I goodness, Christy, I didn’t mean to insinuate that it is easy. Having one child seems difficult enough! I just meant that we want a large family and I can’t imagine even during the hardships that I would ever wish that we hadn’t had any of our children. Right now, we certainly wish we had more though. If that makes sense.
Haha, cackle…now I’m in the mood for a good cackle myself!
Oh don’t worry I know you didn’t insinuate anything Mandi! I’m still praying for you, you guys are a great family who have so much love to give!
I was at a baby shower a year ago, and everyone was supposed to state their name, how many kids they had, and a piece of baby advice they would like to share with the new mom.
When my turn came, I said, “Hi, my name is Marie, and I have 6 kids, and . . . (audible gasps sound from around the room) . . . the gasps were so loud and prolonged, that nobody in the room heard my advice for the new mom!!! Seriously ladies?? You’ve never heard of someone having more than 3 kids? It’s really THAT SHOCKING to you??
It is kinda weird. Its shocking how “sheltered” secular society can be. But I say Yay 6 kids! And sometimes those reactions can be annoying, it deepens if they catch you in the right mood, right?
Christie // Everything to Someone says
Off topic, but is that your house, Christy?!?
Haha, no. But its so adorable isn’t it?? I have this problem with only wanting our fancy family photos to be done near really old buildings!
Oh my goodness, someone else has the same party trick!? It’s true I love watching people’s reactions when I drop the bomb that I have four kids :) I like to casually drop in that I have a 12 year old….and watch them try to mentally calculate my age (she’s a foster-adoption, I’m 29). And yes, the bar gets lower with each kid. In high school I was treated as unattractive and fat. Now at 29 I’m not much thinner than I was in high school and yet I’m “so thin!” and “wow you look great!”. For the record my weight is smack in the middle of the healthy range for my weight, but it’s funny different people’s perceptions once you’ve given birth to a few kids.
And I’m with Dwija “and the woman can fit in pants!” comment had me dying laughing!
Cassandra Ho says
That’s pretty much my life! I had # 5 at 27. I hate to say it, but the worst reactions I get are usually from fellow parishioners at church. And since we moved to the pacific northwest, it seems to be much less uncommon to have four or more kids in these parts, so the reactions have gone down significantly in number the last year.